Leading by Example – I’ve worked to earn the trust of the people of the Space Coast and Treasure Coast by being an example of accountability in government. When it comes to accountability, I believe that Members of Congress must lead by example.
Since being sworn into Congress in 2009, making Congress and Washington more accountable and transparent has been a top priority for me. This builds on the similar steps I took as a member of the Florida Legislature where I kept my office under budget, fought for transparency, and held state agencies accountable by literally writing the book on government accountability with my Activity Based Total Accountability plan (ABTA). ABTA requires state agencies to tell the taxpayers exactly what was accomplished with their tax dollars. (Read more about ABTA here.)
Reforming Congress: I have made Congressional reform and accountability priorities in my service in Congress.
- Blocking Congressional Pay Raises– Since I came to Congress in 2009, I have helped support successful efforts to block Congressional pay raises each and every year since the day I took the oath of office through today. I also thought it was wrong for Congress to pass a pay raise in 2008. To lead by example, I have given every cent of that pay raise back to the U.S. Treasury each year even though it was approved the year before I was sworn in as a Member of Congress.
- Cutting My Own Budget by Over $1 million to the U.S. Treasury– As your elected representative, I believe in being responsible with the federal budget and that begins with my own office budget. I’ve made it a priority to cut my own Congressional office budget and return unspent money to the U.S. Treasury. I also worked to support successful efforts to cut overall Congressional budgets by 5% in 2010 and 6% in 2011. We also froze federal salaries for two years.
- Ending the Revolving Door Between Congress and Lobbying– I introduced legislation to close the so-called “Daschle Loophole” by instituting a 5-year ban on lobbying by former Members of Congress and senior Congressional staff to limit unfair influence on the legislative process. My legislation also says that if you want to become a lobbyist, you have to forfeit your federal retirement benefits. If you are serving in Congress as a Member or staffer, your focus should be on public service, not how you can use such service as a means to launch a lucrative lobbying career.
Promoting Congressional Transparency: My rule in Congress about passing “Too Big to Read” bills has been “If I can’t read it, my vote is NO” and that applies no matter who is in leadership.
- 3 Day Rule– One of the first bills I introduced in Congress was legislation requiring that bills be made available to the public and Members of Congress for at least 3 days before any vote could be held on it. The 3-day rule was included in the House Rules for the 112th and every subsequent session of Congress.
- Single Issue Voting– I have continued to file legislation to require Congress to adopt single issue voting to prevent unrelated amendments from being attached to must-pass legislation.
- Congressional Committee Transparency– The House Financial Services Committee approved my amendment requiring that all Committee votes be posted on the Committee website within 48 hours. Other Congressional Committees have adopted similar transparency reforms.
- Legislative Transparency – The House adopted my proposal and incorporated it into the Rules of the House to require that all changes to legislation throughout the legislative process be clearly shown so that the public and all Members of Congress are able easily see any changes and better understand the impact of such changes. The House is now moving forward to implement this provision.
- Auditing the Federal Reserve– I proudly cosponsored legislation to require a full audit of the Federal Reserve. This legislation, which I helped draft, was partially enacted into law in 2010 and now I’m working with like-minded colleagues to get the rest of it approved.
Holding Regulators and Wrong-Doers Accountable: As a member of the House Financial Services Committee, I’ve focused on holding regulators accountable for their failures to enforce existing regulations and I’m working to see that they implement new ones fairly. Below are just a few of the areas on which I have focused.
- Combating Financial Fraud – I pressed the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to investigate the massive breakdown that allowed Bernie Madoff’s $70 billion Ponzi scheme to continue despite having all of the evidence and supported appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate MF Global’s collapse and former Senator Jon Corzine’s role in the “misplacement” of over $1.2 billion in client money.
- Holding Bank Regulators Accountable – I’ve worked to hold banking regulators accountable for over-regulating community financial institutions which unnecessarily cut off loans to small businesses, caused the failure of community banks and has led to greater consolidation and larger banks than before the 2008 financial crisis. Small community banks are the life-blood of our local economy and small businesses need access to them.
- Tackling Federal Agency Abuse of Power – Spurred several Inspector General investigations of abuse by federal regulators that used regulators to eliminate competition, raised costs for the Federal government and caused American companies to lose business to foreign-owned businesses.
- Protecting You From Wall Street Bailouts – When Speaker Pelosi and President Obama passed the Dodd-Frank bill, they inserted a provision that allowed Washington to “tax” your home and auto insurance in order to bail out large Wall Street Banks. I led the effort to repeal that law and protect you from being forced to bail them out next time.
Jobs and Economy
In the first 30 months of the Trump Administration nearly 7 million American have found jobs, moving from unemployment to work. This has come through a combination of economic policies of lower taxes, common sense regulation and an approach to governing that puts American interests first.
Since the 2016 election taxes on U.S. businesses and corporations is no longer the highest in the developed world. We reduced those taxed and they responded by building new factories in America and creating millions of new jobs here at home. Most liberals in Washington don’t understand that small businesses pay taxes at the individual rate, so by cutting taxes for individuals we cut taxes on tens of millions of small businesses and they have created most of the new jobs in recent years.
While we were not able to block Obamacare and the failed 2009 stimulus plan that largely wasted over $1 trillion taxpayer dollars on failed “stimulus” initiatives that enriched Obama Administration friends, created dead-end short-term jobs, and failed to spark an economic recovery, we were able to block their proposed “cap and trade” national energy tax. This energy tax scheme – whether hidden or direct – would have imposed a $2 trillion-dollar cost to our economy resulting in the loss of even more American jobs and higher prices. Sadly, this ill-advised plan is back and is known as the Green New Deal which has been endorsed by every single Democrat running for President and was approved in concept in a non-binding vote by Speaker Pelosi’s new House majority in early 2019.
Inexpensive American energy, combined with lower taxes, has been the spark that has led to the creation of millions of jobs and a resurgence of American manufacturing since 2016. The Green New Deal would kill America’s economic growth and millions of jobs. Driving up the cost of energy will only cause our economy to suffer more, drive businesses and jobs overseas, make it harder for American-made products to compete, and take more money out of your wallet to pay for gasoline or electricity leaving less for a necessity, a movie, dinner out, college savings or tuition, or clothes for the kids.
When President Trump was sworn into office, federal regulators across hundreds of federal agencies and offices were in the process of writing 4,000 regulations. In 2017 we were able to put the brakes on many of these excessive regulations by injecting transparency and a little common sense.
Obamacare was the wrong prescription for our health care problems and I believe it should be repealed and replaced with a plan based on individual liberty and personal freedom. The Obamacare law has: undermined individual liberty and choice, added tens of billions of dollars to the national debt, driven the cost of medical insurance out of reach for millions of Americans, cut Medicare by hundreds of billions of dollars, and imposed costly mandates on America’s job creators. It failed to meet its promises of affordable coverage for all Americans and tens of millions of American remain uninsured. Another side effect is that too many Americans are still left with part time jobs rather than the full-time jobs that they want.
“Medicare for All” proposals – embraced by all 2020 Democrat presidential candidates and the New Green Deal – is Obamacare on steroids. Medicare for All puts Washington politicians and government bureaucrats in charge of health care decisions because it completely bans private health insurance. That flies in the face of American Constitutional principles of freedom.
Let’s be clear here. We absolutely need to fix the short-comings in our health care system and as we work to do this there are several principles we must follow: We must:
- Guarantee that those with pre-existing medical conditions do not lose their health insurance or their access to affordable coverage;
- Ensure that health insurers cannot drop people from coverage when they get sick; and
- Allow those under age 26 to continue on their family plan until they have access to an affordable health plan of their own as was the law in Florida well before Obamacare.
I’ve successfully gone after insurance companies when they charge Florida residents for health insurance and then refuse to pay medical bills or deny patients live-saving treatments. That’s fraud and it must be prosecuted.
We need to enact policies that drive down costs, make quality health insurance more affordable for all Americans and give Americans access to more choices. Some of the ideas that have been proposed and that should be given consideration include:
- Allow purchase of health insurance across state lines which would enhance competition,
- Keep drug makers from playing games and abusing the regulatory process to keep lower cost drugs off the market,
- Let Americans choose a plan that fits their needs and the needs of their family rather that a plan that politicians and government bureaucrats tell them they must have – that way they won’t have to pay for things they don’t want or need,
- Expand access to tax-free Health Savings Accounts so that individuals can make informed health care decisions rather than handing money over to an insurance company to make those choices for them,
- Make the cost of medical care more transparent so that health care consumers can compare costs and make informed decisions – like they do for everything else they spend their money on,
- Protecting Americans from “surprise” medical bills, and
- Restore high-risk pools that were eliminated under Obamacare to ensure coverage for high cost patients while lowering premiums for other Americans.
As your Congressman, I am committed to a strong national defense. We must ensure that our troops are the best trained, best prepared and best equipped for the battlefield. This posture of strength is our best defense. We must recognize that the world is a dangerous place and we must remain vigilant. Fulfilling our commitments to those veterans who have served is not only the right thing to do; it is key to preserving our all-volunteer force.
Like all areas of the budget, our national defense budget needs to become leaner and we can do this without cutting vital national security needs and essential training, vital facilities and operations like those at Patrick Air Force Base, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and the Naval Ordnance Training Unit.
Sequestration of our national defense budget was harmful to our national defense which is one of the key reasons I opposed the budget deal that put budget sequestration in place. Spending restraint needs to be more targeted and direct, rather than across the board as such indiscriminate cuts jeopardize our priorities while ignoring the real waste and lower priority budget items.
Space is the ultimate military high ground. China and Russia have tested space weapons and are developing hypersonic weapons that could cripple our military advantage and undermine our national security. We must be prepared to counter any aggression by China, Russia, Iran, North Korea or others and that means investing in advanced space capabilities. We cannot afford to be complacent in any area of our national defense and as a member of the House Space Subcommittee I am working to ensure that U.S. leadership in space remains unmatched.
In 2018 my CAPTIVE Act was signed into law as part of the Anti-terrorism Clarification Act. My bill provides justice to American victims of terrorism by allowing the seized assets to be used to satisfy a person’s court-awarded judgment.
As a former worker at KSC and former Chairman of Space Florida’s predecessor organization, I believe that America must absolutely remain at the forefront of space research, capabilities and exploration.
Not only will our investments in space exploration keep much-needed, high paying jobs here in Brevard County and throughout the Space Coast, but it contributes to American space innovation and leadership as well as our national security. Free nations around the world are looking to the U.S. to lead the world in space and if we fail to do so others – China and Russia – will fill that void and that is not in in our economic or national security interest.
Space is the ultimate military high ground that we cannot cede to Russia, China or anyone else. To do so puts our national security at risk. The Chinese have already taken laser target practice at satellites, and Congressional testimony by top military experts highlights the growing vulnerabilities of our military space assets posed by China.
I opposed efforts to make us reliant on the Russians for U.S. astronaut access to the International Space Station (ISS) and I am pleased to see its end. Our commercial crew program has NASA contracting with American companies to launch American astronauts from American soil to carry out the ISS mission. We approved a NASA Authorization bill in 2017 that authorized key NASA human space flight programs that are so important to the work here along the Space Coast.
I was pleased to play an active role in passing the Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act of 2015, which included key provisions for building a robust commercial space program here on the Space Coast. I authored key provisions of that law which have given certainty to commercial space companies and has led to the investment of billions of dollars by a host of space companies: SpaceX, Blue Origin, United Launch Alliance, Northrop Grumman (OrbitalATK), Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and a host of new space companies like Firefly).
My RACE for Space Act (HR 4401) and Commercial Space Support Vehicle ACT were signed into law eliminating burdensome red tape making it easier for commercial space companies to launch at the Cape and capture the budding suborbital and orbital commercial marketplace.
In 2017 my Senior’s Tax Simplification Act was signed into law by President Trump. This legislation directs the IRS to create a new, simple, tax filing form for senior citizens who do not have complicated income streams. It’s been almost four decades since a new streamlined tax form has been created to help simplify tax filing.
Social Security and Medicare are critical programs for our nation’s seniors. They are programs that seniors have paid into and are a contract between seniors and the federal government. This promise must be kept.
With regard to Social Security I have voted against making any changes to Social Security. I have also cosponsored and voted for legislation that would guarantee that Social Security checks are never held hostage to budget negotiations. This legislation guarantees that Social Security checks are paid. Social Security is a contract between seniors who paid into the program and the federal government, and these obligations must be met.
As for Medicare, I am a strong supporter of Medicare and voted against President Obama’s health care law, which cut over a half a trillion dollars from the Medicare budget. I also voted against legislation that would have made other changes for those who are nearing retirement. For those under age 55 who want to choose a different plan, I believe that we should consider allowing them to make choices when they reach 65, but also ensure that they have access to traditional Medicare, with no changes, if they so desire. The Medicare Advantage plan that tens of thousands of seniors in my Congressional District have chosen is the sort of choice options that have proven very successful and should be expanded.
“Medicare for All” proposals – embraced by all 2020 Democrat presidential candidates and the New Green Deal – is Obamacare on steroids. Medicare for All threatens traditional Medicare and the health care benefits of seniors. It puts Washington politicians and government bureaucrats in charge of health care decisions because it bans private health insurance. That flies in the face of American Constitutional principles of freedom.
I have long supported efforts to repeal Medicare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) and in February of 2018 we succeeded and President Trump signed legislation finally doing away with it. IPAB was originally included in the Obamacare health care law and would have given 15 unelected, unaccountable government bean counters the power to reduce Medicare services for seniors. Medicare for All would grant government bean counters this same authority and essentially put your health care and your health in the hands of unaccountable, unelected government workers in Washington – this is why it must be rejected.